Cards: the Visa operator bought the license to offer Mastercard

Prisma, the company that handles the Visa brand in Argentina, goes out to fight, on another level, the market for means of payment with its main competitor. He decided to buy Master Card International the license to process transactions in the country Mastercard, a business that until today was operated exclusively by the US First Data. It is speculated that in the coming days First Data would do the same and start processing Visa cards.

In the jargon of the means of payment market, this is known as the start of competition in the “acquire” market. Until now, the operations were not crossed: when a purchase was paid with Visa, the operation was processed by Prisma, and if Mastercard is used, it goes to First Data.

Last year, the Commission for the Defense of Competition got involved in the business of means of payment, and its first step was to force the banks that own Visa to sell Prisma, and to free up competition in the acquisition market. Acquisition defines the relationship in which the business and the company that processes the transaction are linked.

The sale of Prism is possible to be completed in the coming weeks. But until that operation materializes, the firm seeks to grow in the market. Today Prisma has about 70% of the market for means of payment, and MasterCard 25%. With card quotas more or less stable, the field to grow is that of operations processing.

To seduce the businesses (today they have 350,000 customers), Prisma offers a package that goes beyond the processing service and the tariff that the commerce pays, called “exchange rate”. “We invested 750 million pesos in technology,” says Tomás Reboursín, Prisma’s Payment Media manager.

In this package of services, the CentralPos service stands out, a system of consolidation and integral conciliation where commerce manages all its sales in the same platform, with total control.

Also the “Contactless” cards that allow you to make payments by bringing the card to the sales terminal, and dial your Security PIN, designed for businesses with many operations of low amounts (hamburgers, for example).

“We want to make life easier for the merchant, but especially for the youngest, who does not have as many resources for this type of task,” says Reboursín. In addition to the technological package, Prisma seeks to generate a greater flow of customers to businesses with other products, in addition to credit and debit cards. Among them, the electronic wallet Todo Pago, Pago mis cuentas, Monedero, Banelco, Lapos and Decide.

A special case is the possibility of payment by QR code developed with YPF. This allows to speed up the circulation of vehicles in the service stations, processing the payment while waiting for the load. The operation starts when the QR code is activated, and closes when the supplier reports the amount due to the fuel load. At the same time, points are charged per frequent buyer.

To fight against cash, Prisma prepares raffles among debit card users, who choose to pay by credit card instead of tickets.


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